Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Valeat Quantum Valere Potest Definition:

Latin: it shall have effect as far as it can have effect.

James Oldham rendered the Latin maxim as:

"... valeat quantum valere potest - let it have effect as far as it can."

The Third Edition of James Ballentine's law dictionary:

"Valeat quantum valere potest: let it have effect to such extent as it can have effect."

In Edgerly v. Barker, Chief Justice Doe of the New Hampshire Supreme Court adopted these words:

"(I)n the case of wills, the method of the courts has been, not to set aside the intent because it cannot take effect so fully as the testator desired, but to let it work as far as it can. These sound views have grown into a maxim applicable to almost every legal transaction, valeat quantum valere potest."

In State v Sumner, the Court suggested that the meaning of valeat quantum valere potest has become::

"It should have that effect now."1

Often expressed as simply valeat quantum.

Bloom writes:

"Deeds ... shall be so construed as to operate according to the intention of the parties, if by law they may. And if they cannot in one form, they shall operate in that which by law will effectuate the intention: quando res non valet ut ago, valeat quantum valere potest."


  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims, 10th Ed. (London: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd., 1939), page 363.
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of De Bene Esse
  • Edgerly v Barker, 31 A. 900 (1891)
  • Kelly v. Imperial Loan and Investment Co., 11 O.A.R. 526 (1884)
  • Oldham, James, Truth-Telling in the Eighteenth-Century English Courtroom, 12 Law & Hist. Rev. 114 (1994)
  • Pepin v Caisse, 2008 QCCA 844
  • State v Sumner, 153 SE 2d 111 (1967; NOTE 1)
  • Thellusson v Woodford (aka Thellusson v Thellusson), 4 Ves. 325 (1798); also at 31 E.R. 117

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